Jun 192018
 

Crawling under
Electric fence
Isn’t easy,
but he’s too short
To step over.

Barbed wire’s better:
He can push it
Down, hold it. Still
It can tear clothes.

 June 19, 2018  Reflections Tagged with:
Jun 162018
 

The worn trail leading past the cow fence to the pond
Lay between the live oak and the old woman’s door.
To go to the fields or to the pond was to go to her.
To come back from either was to come back to her.

She sat on a lawn chair in the shade on bare dirt.
She talked as she looked out at the blinding light
That seared the grass in the open field beyond
The leaves and the shadow. She watched as cars
beyond the grass slowed at the break where
Paved road yielded to grated clay and sand.

The boy sat in a chair she kept ready by her own
As she told stories. Once he asked about the oak,
Was it alive? “Yes!” she said, “And always talking,
Always swapping tales and gossip with the wind.”
Eyes dancing wildly over a smile, she wondered.
“I wonder what that old tree knows on you?”
Another time she told him the name of god.

The boy and the old woman talked in the long heat,
Listening to the chorus of bugs and frogs calling
For the night as the afternoon stretched the shadows.
Then the live oak took a breath, small and sighing.

Another. Then it reached out and up and swept down
the breeze from the retreating sky. The oak swayed
As it sang softly whispered lullabies of cool nights,
Songs of bright stars. It psalmed dew-soaked grass.
It promised the morning. And then morning again.

 June 16, 2018  Reflections Tagged with:
Jun 122018
 

The old woman talks her way
around the pond slowly, speaking as
Her eyes and hands jump about.
The boy walks along and listens.

As she walks round the far side,
The old woman spots a young tree
Bound to the glossy black water
By a thin cord. It cuts the bark pulling
Green out from beneath the soft gray.

“That line’ll kill that tree,” she says.
Then she says they ought to save it
And the boy leans out to catch the line.
“Don’t fall in!” she says.
“There might be gators.”

The knot is small and tight.
She pulls at it, then the boy pulls.
They take turns. Between them, working,
They get it loose, coil it up, leave the line
In a pile in the grass beside the tree.

“Is the tree okay now?” he asks.
“That tree will be fine,” she says.

And so the two set out again round the pond.
She says still all that she sees, while he listens
To the sky whispering to the trees and the grass.

 June 12, 2018  Reflections Tagged with:
Jun 112018
 

The small boy asked to dig a hole.
So they gave him a shovel,
Showed him a place under
The far branches of the live oak,
And let him be.

The dirt was sandy, not clay,
Grey-black and cool to the touch.
When the level ground was to his knees,
He felt he was getting somewhere.
He dug that afternoon, fast and deep.

Minutes or hours later,
He stopped digging, done.

Hot and tired but proud too,
He asked for a camera, took a picture.

Years later pasted in a book the print showed
Brown and broken leaves scattered beneath sun
Falling through the branches of the tree above,
The tall shadow of a boy stretched beyond the frame,
And the dirt that wasn’t there.

 June 11, 2018  Reflections Tagged with:
Jun 092018
 

He remembers everything,
Even the good stuff.
The gray veined wood of the porch.
The bright sun on the summer leaves.

He remembers the pine straw and the stone BBQ
And the old woman in the chair outside her trailer
Sitting under the shadow of the oak saying,
“Slap the skeeters quick if you don’t want the sleepin’ sickness.”
He remembers the sweet bellies, and the ghosts
Dropping into his body, and the dogs in cages
Hosed down before night came.

He remembers less the present,
The years that flow like the clothes pulled
From his father’s back with the bees.
The honeysuckle on the playground fence.
The teachers striking. The slide, the moon,
And his grandfather’s stories,
How he counted the planes leaving in the morning,
Counted the planes coming back at night.

He remembers the moving line described over peanuts.
The feel of the carpet pile, slick against his feet,
And the cruel bite of the loose screw in the floor vent.

He remembers.

 June 9, 2018  Reflections Tagged with: ,
Jun 082018
 

In the final months and weeks of the 90s—a gentler time when the Internet was still the Web—I stumbled across a slash site. Slash felt like guerilla appropriation. It was fun and exciting on it’s own terms. But what surprised and fascinated me was that these stories of dwarves and hobbits and vulcans and Hogwarts students sneaking off during the breaks between scenes in familiar stories to cuddle, kiss and fuck were mostly written by women. Knowing this, these brief, earnest stories became mysterious and camp.

All of which is the context for my reaction to seeing Plautilla Nelli’s The Last Supper pop up in the Daily Art app on my phone as the painting for the day. The fresco is a familiar scene and familiar composition, but there’s something special about the central figures—Jesus and John—sitting together in a small circle of negative space, alone and mutually adoring in the busy group of men. It’s a beautiful scene and seeing it, my mind thought unbidden, “It’s slash.”

So this post.

 June 8, 2018  Moments
Jun 042018
 

Ruskin would have hated this book as pathetic fallacy pushed to the far reaches of decadence. Many of my students were skeptical of it for the same reason but without realizing there was a name for what they saw simply as unscientific bias. Those who loved it were mostly silent, only sharing in their essays how deeply moved they were by Wohlleben’s celebration of forest communities.

My thought? Most of my students have never been in woods thick enough to block their view of clear land. I’d be surprised if any of them had ever walked through a genuine forest. So language that pushes them to imagine trees as something other than biological machines for pumping water and sucking up carbon is good for them. And by that I mean good for their souls.

 June 4, 2018  Book Logs Tagged with:
Jun 032018
 

When my mother came up last year, I bought her the first book in Louise Penny’s series of murder mysteries.

They’re set in the Eastern Townships, and I thought it’d be a nice reminder of Quebec when she was reading it back home.

Turns out she loved the first book and has now run through the entire series.

When she was midway through and praising them on the phone, I decided to give the first book a shot, even though I don’t usually like mysteries.

And what a nice surprise, it was great and I’ve bought the second and third for a rainy weekend sometime.

 June 3, 2018  Book Logs Tagged with:
May 272018
 

Marvel does Inception.

Sigh.

If there had been even one more episode, I wouldn’t have finished. But I got to four in a binge and realized I was half done, so I gave it a shot.

Sigh.

It’s interesting to see self-consciousness about the medium that is neither political nor anti-consumerist. Sets off the value of Soloway in Transparent and I Love Dick by way of contrast.

 May 27, 2018  TV Logs Tagged with: ,